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Woman gets work release and home detention for stealing $136,000 from Greenwood employer

Tonia Cherry will do a year on work release, another year on home detention and two years of probation.
Tonia Cherry

GREENWOOD, Ind. (WTHR) — An Indianapolis woman pleaded guilty to stealing almost $136,000 from a small business in Greenwood where she worked as a secretary. In a plea agreement reached with the Johnson County prosecutor, 52-year-old Tonia Cherry admitted to two counts of theft and one count of fraud.

On Feb. 24, Cherry received a sentence of one year on work release followed by a year on home detention, followed by two years of probation. Cherry was ordered to participate in substance abuse evaluation and treatment, gambling addiction evaluation and treatment, and to pay restitution of $38,951.50 to John Hammel, owner of Tower Service and Manufacturing.

Cherry worked in the office of Tower Service and Manufacturing for three years. For most of that time, she stole from the small business, which has less than 10 employees. The company repairs and provides maintenance on radio and cellular towers.

Cherry was charged last July with felony theft and fraud totaling $135,918.78.

Between September 2016 and February 2018, Cherry used a bank card kept in the office for miscellaneous expenses 256 times for unauthorized withdrawals totaling $77,622.82. A Huntington ATM is less than a mile from the Tower Service and Manufacturing office. Greenwood Police have videos of Cherry in February 2018 twice visiting a Huntington Bank drive up ATM at Greenwood Centre strip mall in her 2015 Chevrolet Impala at times that match withdrawals from the company card.

Cherry also used the card five times totaling $480 at Big Red Liquors in the same Greenwood Centre strip mall as the ATM. There were 139 ATM withdrawals that occurred at Indiana Grand Casino in Shelbyville. Cherry sometimes made multiple withdrawals after midnight during apparent all-night gambling that coincides with use of her casino players card.

Cherry also had access to a company Chase checking account, from which she allegedly paid $58,139.93 to her own Chase credit card.

Cherry also misused a company Marathon credit card meant to buy fuel for company vehicles. She purchased cigarettes and snacks with the card six times totaling $156.03.